As famed psychologist Eric Fromme has pointed out, “Human history begins with an act of disobedience.” He notes that Adam and Eve are disobedient and it is part of the human condition.
This is an interesting precept as we move through these trying times. What is disobedience but an attempt at honoring the act of justice through inclinations of the heart and attunement with a higher reason of order through mindfulness?
Right from the get-go, when we are born into this world, the aim is to reunite with the harmony of the universe; a place of belonging, connection to a power greater than ourselves that holds the presence of eternal love in what Jesus called the “Kingdom of God.” We work to build the “kingdom” here on earth. It is a utopian state that is vouchsafed in the unconditional expression of truth that is believed by most religions and philosophical schools attainable on earth.
St. Augustine put it another way, “Our hearts are restless, Lord, until they rest in you.” In other words, we incarnate into a world of confusion and our job is to sort it out. We do this by participating in building a society of goodness and justice.
Reason and psychology have roles in the play of justice. What is a reasonable act? What is fair and just in a society that affords ALL citizens the right to life, liberty, property and happiness? We have uniform codes like a Constitution and Bill of Rights furthermore we have the Declaration of Human Rights as a model.
The great philosophers have argued for what is just and right. Since the example of Jesus in a Judeo Christian society, to Augustine and Aquinas to the likes of Locke and Rousseau, the battle for understanding what is right has been waged.
We know that serving the common good is the key to society. When one group’s individual rights are compromised, all individual rights are compromised. When an injustice has been served it affords the opportunity for injustice to creep into all houses of society.
Are the individual rights of people being sacrificed for the sake of one group maintaining power over another? When we see the life of another being snuffed out over a twenty-dollar bill that was passed by an individual who may have not known that it was a forgery, we need to take note of this.
What is really happening here? Every sinew in our muscle is born for the sake of returning to a system of righteousness and fairness. When an oppressor is inclined to serve self-interests what is happening here? When members of the state have a license to kill and are exonerated on a regular basis due to their roles in police forces, we need to take note of that.
When knee jerk reactions of shooting first and asking questions later in the deaths of children like Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice are taking place, a society needs to stand up and say what is happening here? What are we doing to protect the rights of our children?
Recently, the police invaded a home and exchanged fire with someone and killed Breonna Taylor an innocent bystander. It was learned that the police raided the house without a warrant and were in the wrong house. The African American was defending his house against someone he thought was an intruder.
Any white American, in fact, I’ve heard people who are staunch advocates of the 2nd Amendment defend the right to self-defense. In this case, since it is an African American who shot at a policeman, they pause and automatically side with the police.
Civil disobedience has brought some of the greatest changes in our history. From Gandhi’s rejection of the British government and Home Rule, to MLK and the Civil Rights Movement to Nelson Mandela and his battle against Apartheid, these inclinations for a just world are the very battle worth waging.
These are the times that take it to another level. We have an opportunity for real change. People are taking to the streets because they are tired of the systems. This time, more whites are participating in the act of dissension and discourse. It remains to be seen if this will result in votes in the presidential election in November, which can initiate real change.
History is always on the right side of love. Fools, who stood in the way of recognizing the power of love, are written in books as stooges. Those who have stood in the way of moving this agenda forward have been called out.
Earnest work for change will determine whether we are a country fighting for the rights of all or a country comfortable with the status quo of hate and fear.
Which side of history are you on?